Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac Thursday raised questions on the “feasibility” of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, the Centre’s ambitious health insurance programme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day this year. “Ayushman Bharat is a big hoax,” he told The Indian Express.
According to Isaac, under the existing health insurance scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bhima Yojana (RSBY), total claims in India have been Rs. 1.20 crore, of which Rs 53 lakh is from Kerala. “Kerala with 3 per cent of the population accounts for 42 per cent of the claims. This means the programme is not functioning properly in the rest of the country,” Isaac said.
Isaac also questioned how the government would implement Ayushmann Bharat at such a big scale. “The subsidy ceiling for the current RSBY scheme of Rs 30,000 benefit is Rs 1,250. The subsidy for the Ayushman scheme, with benefit of Rs 5 lakh, is Rs 1,110. Is it possible to have such a jump in benefits for lower premium?” he asked.
“Such a proposal can be made only on the premise that you don’t have to pay for it. This scheme, touted as world class, is a hoax. The financial model of this kind can only be operated if you assume you don’t have to pay,” Isaac claimed.
The state Finance Minister also said that the Centre has been slashing funds for primary health care at the cost of institutional public health care system. “They are trying to make the state pay 40 per cent of the payment. At this rate of 5 lakh benefit, total premium cost for the state is going to be Rs 5,000-6,000. If we are not allowed to customise it, it will break the state’s health care system. It’s so ridiculous,” he said.
Pointing out that health is a state subject, Isaac argued that the states should be allowed to customise the programmes in health according to the respective state’s needs.